Nothing to get excited about. I’m So Excited (Spanish, in English subtitles) is Pedro Almodovar’s deliberate trifle to distinguish from his more serious work. You can tell he had some fun making it, but there is evidence of lackluster commitment to it, too. Mostly set on a plane in limbo in mid-air that can’t land due to malfunctioning landing gear, Almodovar doesn’t come up with a visual strategy that’s interesting – the compositional frames are similar to soap opera. On board are horny passengers, gay and bi-sexual pilots and flight attendants. Each character dotes on their obsessions and fantasies. Campy! Campy! Campy! Or for some: Snore! Snore! Snore!
Fans of Almodovar might be goosey that he has wrangled together his favorite stars. Antonio Banderas and Penelope Cruz play a klutzy but sexually oozing couple (they are runway workers) that tease us with a cameo, then disappear permanently. Lola Duenas, Cecilia Roth, and Blanca Suarez (pic left) are the stand-out women – the virgin, the whore and the classy young lady. Suarez takes a phone call from the ground from her boyfriend stuck up in the plane. We’re drawn to her two-strap flower prints outfit, ahem, her Sunday best dress is a lot more interesting than her pouty dialogue. The two-timing boyfriend (Guillermo Toledo), by the way, has another girlfriend (Paz Vega). This subplot gets a lot of attention, yet does it really go anywhere?
In what was intended as scandalous Almodovar humor, his script has the flight attendants knock out the economy class with an overdose of muscle relaxants. The idea of this of course is supposed to be a means to screwball outrageousness. High lunacy of the Mel Brooks kind is achieved but only sporadically, particularly by a gay-themed musical number with the flight attendants (Javier Camara, Carlos Areces, Raul Arevalo) belting the titular Pointer Sisters song. And there is a sex montage with certain passengers compulsively engaging in horny activities that’s got energy. Yet just when you think Almodovar has found a rhythm with such a riotous sequence, he cuts away to inert blandness.
We never expect a plane crash landing (we have faith that the comedy isn’t going to let it go there), but the characters jabber a lot about their lost chances in life. “I’m So Excited” is equally preoccupied with blowjob jokes. Audiences are not likely to be elated by this nor feel humpy-pumpy by anything else. Almodovar’s film steers from sex to fear of death, and back again, with not much meaning. His film doesn’t crush us with misery, but it’s still no more than a shrug. Almodovar, with such a mighty reputation that beckons formal expectations, has finally got to make a movie with a blasé attitude. Let’s hope he doesn’t do that again.
95 Minutes. Rated R. Spanish in English subtitles.
FOREIGN FILM / COMEDY / NIGHTTIME GIGGLES
Film Cousins: “Airplane!” (1980); “Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!” (1990, Spain); “View from the Top” (2002); “Soul Plane” (2004).